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Mark Antony’s Last Throw

Michael Kulikowski: Hellenistic Navies

25 October 2012
The Age of Titans: The Rise and Fall of the Great Hellenistic Navies 
by William Murray.
Oxford, 356 pp., £30, January 2012, 978 0 19 538864 0
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... fracturing. Surely something so large must have come from a ‘twelve’ or a ‘twenty’? That was the consensus on its discovery. Not so, it turns out: the Athlit ram comes from a ‘four’, as WilliamMurray demonstrates in The Age of the Titans through painstaking and painfully technical analysis of the artistic, archaeological and textual evidence. As ancient narratives make clear, ‘fours ...

Short Cuts

William​ Davies: Jordan Peterson

2 August 2018
... Uproarious cheer. ‘OK, we’ll keep going.’ He feigns surprise at this outcome, sinks back into his black leather regency armchair and turns again to his interlocutors, Sam Harris and Douglas Murray. I’d cheered for the first option, not least because I was interested to know how on earth it was going to work. The O2 was less than a third full, but even so, that’s an audience of six thousand ...

Welfare in America

William​ Plowden

11 July 1991
American Social Welfare Policy: A Structural Approach 
by Howard Karger and David Stoesz.
Longman, 371 pp., £18.95, November 1990, 0 8013 0193 9
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America’s Misunderstood Welfare State 
by Theodore Marmor, Jerry Mashaw and Philip Harvey.
Basic Books, 268 pp., $22.95, October 1990, 9780465001224
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The American Prospect 
edited by Paul Starr and Robert Kuttner.
New Prospect, 168 pp., $31
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... programmes created a whole set of ‘perverse incentives’ which, directly or indirectly, actually made things worse. This thesis was popularised in the influential book Losing ground, by Charles Murray, published in 1984. Murray noted the inconclusive findings of social research. He pointed out that since 1965 generous rates of social security benefit had been available to workers and non-workers ...

‘They got egg on their faces’

Leofranc Holford-Strevens: The Oxford English Dictionary

20 November 2003
The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary 
by Simon Winchester.
Oxford, 260 pp., £12.99, October 2003, 0 19 860702 4
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... being in Scotland were to eat them. Chapter 2, ‘The Construction of the Pigeon-Holes’, concerns the early days of the project, from Dean Trench’s lecture of 1857 to the appointment of James Murray as editor in 1879. Much attention is given to the personalities: one would like to know why Trench was ‘deeply embarrassed’ by his participation in the Torrijos rebellion (the DNB indicates ...

A Plumless Pudding

John Sutherland: The Great John Murray​ Archive Disaster

18 March 2004
... Modest sums were paid for both sets of material. The papers had been retained by the Bentley family, after the takeover of the firm by Smith, Elder & Co (itself soon to be taken over by John Murray). A descendant – loyally named Richard Bentley – had lovingly conserved and catalogued them for posterity. In 1967, the BL acquired a tranche of early Macmillan papers: Harold Macmillan, it seems ...
7 March 2013
Words of the World: A Global History of the ‘Oxford English Dictionary’ 
by Sarah Ogilvie.
Cambridge, 241 pp., £17.99, November 2012, 978 1 107 60569 5
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... to the left of the headword. Murray’s successors William Craigie and Charles Onions tussled over whether to maintain this practice. Proofs of the Supplement dated 11 September 1929 retain Murray’s so-called tramlines; in the next proofs, dated 2 July 1930, they are gone. Between these dates, Onions joined the BBC Advisory Committee on Spoken English, where he became acutely aware of the ...

You Have Never Written Better

Benjamin Markovits: Byron’s Editor

20 March 2008
The Letters of John Murray​ to Lord Byron 
edited by Andrew Nicholson.
Liverpool, 576 pp., £25, June 2007, 978 1 84631 069 0
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... The relationship between Byron and his editor John Murray lasted a little over ten years. It began in March 1812 with the publication of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, which made Byron’s name. (‘I awoke one morning and found myself famous,’ he famously ...

I have no books to consult

Stephen Sedley: Lord Mansfield

22 January 2015
Lord Mansfield: Justice in the Age of Reason 
by Norman Poser.
McGill-Queen’s, 532 pp., £24.99, September 2013, 978 0 7735 4183 2
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... In March​ 1718, 13-year-old WilliamMurray, the 11th of Viscount Stormont’s 14 children, set off from the family seat at Scone, near Perth, on a pony. The journey to London, which he made alone, took him almost two months, and it is ...
13 June 1991
The Passing of Barchester: A Real-Life Version of Trollop 
by Clive Dewey.
Hambledon, 199 pp., £14.95, April 1991, 1 85285 039 6
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... and nowhere was the practice more honoured than in the Church of England. Was it really a bad thing? The Passing of Barchester examines in fine focus the case of a 19th-century Dean of Canterbury, William Rowe Lyall, himself childless, who found Church appointments for his younger brother, four nephews and three nephews-in-law. If there was any ‘senseless outcry’ against Dean Lyall on grounds of ...

That sh—te Creech

James Buchan: The Scottish Enlightenment

5 April 2007
The Enlightenment and the Book: Scottish Authors and Their Publishers in 18th-Century Britain, Ireland and America 
by Richard Sher.
Chicago, 815 pp., £25.50, February 2007, 978 0 226 75252 5
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... In March 1776, James Boswell and Samuel Johnson visited Pembroke College, Oxford and called on the master, William Adams. According to Richard Sher, Boswell wrote in his journal how dismayed he had been to see in the master’s library a copy of the quarto edition of David Hume’s Essays and Treatises on Several ...
21 May 2014
... despite surgery, died just after midnight. The​ earliest official report on Peach’s death was a memorandum placed on record in the House of Commons library in June 1979 by the home secretary, William Whitelaw, which stated that at approximately 8 p.m., it was necessary to deal with a large group of youths near Alexandra Avenue. The throwing of missiles increased and it was necessary for police ...

Eminent Athenians

Hugh Lloyd-Jones

1 October 1981
The Greek Heritage in Victorian Britain 
by Frank Turner.
Yale, 461 pp., £18.90, April 1981, 0 300 02480 0
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... with its wealth of artistic, religious and historical detail, is a work similar to a critical edition of a text by Porson; and the knowledge that Exeter College, Oxford has a dining-hall, in which William Sewell once publicly burned a copy of Froude’s Nemesis of Faith, has led him to refer to it by the name of Exeter Hall, a building in London where Elderess Polly, Elderess Antoinette and other ...

Yak Sandwiches

Christopher Burns

31 March 1988
Pleasure 
by John Murray.
Aidan Ellis, 233 pp., £10.50, October 1987, 0 85628 167 0
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Absurd Courage 
by Nobuko Albery.
Century, 254 pp., £11.95, October 1987, 0 7126 1149 5
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Laing 
by Ann Schlee.
Macmillan, 302 pp., £10.95, November 1987, 0 333 45633 5
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The Part of Fortune 
by Laurel Goldman.
Faber, 249 pp., £10.95, November 1987, 0 571 14921 9
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In the Fertile Land 
by Gabriel Josipovici.
Carcanet, 212 pp., £10.95, November 1987, 0 85635 716 2
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... John Murray’s fiction has always seemed to arise directly from the circumstances of his own life. At first, his work concentrated on his childhood and adolescence among the tiny, depressed communities that ...

Diary

Frank Kermode: Everybody loves the OED

20 April 1989
... add about five thousand recently accumulated words or new senses of words. The computer has changed the typography, which looks good, though a keen eye might miss some of the beauties of hot metal.Murray’s system of registering pronunciation has been replaced by the International Phonetic Alphabet. Foreign alphabets, except Greek, are now transliterated. These and other changes are explained in the ...
17 August 1989
Arnold Toynbee: A Life 
by William​ McNeill.
Oxford, 346 pp., £16.95, July 1989, 0 19 505863 1
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... encountered keen criticism from academic historians, spearheaded by Pieter Geyl and Hugh Trevor-Roper, which marginalised his major project in the eyes of his own profession. As his new biographer, William McNeill, candidly declares, ‘a principal purpose of this book is to try to establish a better balance between the popular adulation on the one hand and the professional hostility on the other that ...

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